03/20/2017 1:56PM

Siblings square off in Dubai World Cup

Mathea Kelley/Dubai Racing Club
Lani ran in all three Triple Crown races last year, finishing a close third in the Belmont.

A pair of globetrotting half-siblings are set to meet once again on a major world stage Saturday, as Lani and Awardee contest the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

The two previously met in the Group 1 Champions Cup, formerly the Japan Cup Dirt, in December. Sound Wave defeated the favored Awardee by a neck in the prestigious event; back in ninth was Awardee’s younger half-brother, Lani. Awardee comes into the World Cup having not raced since December, when he was second in the Group 1 Tokyo Daishoten. Lani was unplaced in a local prep this month.

Lani and Awardee are both Kentucky-born but Japanese-based. Their dam is Japanese Group 1 winner Heavenly Romance, a daughter of 1989 Horse of the Year Sunday Silence, who went on to become a breed-shaping sire in Japan.

Heavenly Romance began her broodmare career in Japan, but due to the saturation of Sunday Silence’s bloodlines in that market, her connections struggled to find the proper cross for her. It was thus decided to send her to the U.S. to be covered by prominent Kentucky stallions, with the resulting foals sent home to Japan for international racing careers.

Heavenly Romance was sent to Kentucky in foal to Japanese Horse of the Year Jungle Pocket; the resulting foal, born in 2010, was Awardee. He is a multiple Group 3 winner and had won all four of his starts last year coming into the Champions Cup.

Heavenly Romance produced the multiple stakes winner Amour Briller, by the late Smart Strike, in 2011. In 2013, she delivered Lani, by North America’s reigning leading sire, Tapit. The famously headstrong colt won last year’s Group 2 United Arab Emirates Derby in Dubai; competed in all three legs of the American Triple Crown, finishing a close third in the Belmont Stakes; and returned to Japan to finish third in the Brazil Cup at Tokyo.

Coming up next for the family, Heavenly Romance has a pair of fillies, ages 3 and 2, by Distorted Humor. After delivering an Awesome Again colt in 2016, she was bred back to Tapit for a full sibling to Lani for 2017.